Another Iowa win over yet another SEC team in a New Year’s day bowl game.
This time the Hawkeyes picked apart the South Carolina Gamecocks en route to a dominating 31-10 victory.
Four out of the last five years, Ferentz’s Farmboys have traveled down to sunny Florida and served notice to the nation’s elite conference. Two of those games were Iowa blowouts, one a dramatic come-from-behind win, and the lone loss has a rather large asterisk next to it.
In 2004, the Hawkeyes hammered the Florida Gators, humiliating them to the tune of a 37-17 drubbing. The Gators were gashed for 238 yards on the ground, and the Hawkeyes put the game out of reach early in the 3rd quarter.
The following year, Iowa faced a tough LSU squad playing its final game under Nick Saban. And while Iowa squandered plenty of opportunities, they capitalized on the biggest one—a 56 yard bomb on the last play of the game, leading to a 30-25 win in a game no LSU fan wants to remember.
In 2006, a rematch with the Gators looked to be a classic revenge game as Florida took a 31-7 lead into the final quarter—but the Hawkeyes made a furious comeback, scoring 17 unanswered points.
With over a minute left, Iowa successfully recovered an onside kick and were poised for the game-tying score. It was all for naught, however, as the refs whistled the Hawkeyes for being offsides, even though replays show it was a phantom call at best.
Who knows if Iowa would have scored and forced OT that year, but with all the momentum they had, you had to like their chances. As it was, they fell by the final score of 31-24.
For whatever reason, that game seemed to foretell the future for each team. Urban Meyer’s Gators steamrolled in recruiting, won a national championship, and garnered national exposure behind media darling Tim Tebow.
Iowa, meanwhile, struggled mightily, going a combined 12-13 over the next two seasons. In that time, Ferentz was widely criticized, especially since Ferentz’s salary was well above most of his peers’.
But the Hawkeyes regrouped this season, and Ferentz’s return to Tampa in 2009 became a familiar scene for the Hawkeye faithful, as this game was over before it started.
Mere minutes after Iowa opened the game with a methodical touchdown drive, they were back in the end zone, courtesy of an errant Stephen Garcia interception. From there, the rout was on.
Just like that, Ferentz quietly orchestrated a quiet 9-4 season. Not too shabby.
Prior to Ferentz’s arrival at Iowa, the last time the Hawkeyes won a January bowl game was in 1959. In addition, Iowa was 0-5 in games played in Florida before Ferentz quickly made that change as well.
From my perspective, too much is made of Ferentz’s down years. A look at this man’s body of work shows he can clearly coach.
Although unlikely, perhaps Tennessee and Auburn hit the jackpot with their most recent coaching hires. If I were an AD at one of those schools, one thing’s for sure: Kirk Ferentz would have been on my short list.